21st Sep2013

‘Dark Feed’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Evalena Marie, Michael Reed, Dayna Cousins, Victoria Nugent, Jason Beaubien, Rebecca Whitehurst, Michael Scott Allen, Jonathan Thomson, Andrew Rudick, Jonathan Popp | Written and Directed by Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rasmussen

dark-feed-cast

I think I may have been only one of a handful of people in the film-blogging community who expressed deep love for John Carpenter’s psych ward set horror flick The Ward. Well now the brotherly writing duo behind that film – Michael and Shawn Rasmussen – are back with another slice of hospital horror with Dark Feed.

This time round the brothers Rasmussen take on the writing, editing, scripting AND directing duties, for this tale that sees a film crew move into an abandoned psychiatric hospital to shoot a low budget horror film. As the late nights and lack of sleep begin to take a toll, and the longer this crew works, the more the leaky, wet building seems to be coming back to life, feeding off its new inhabitants. As the shoot wears on, members of the crew exhibit increasingly strange behaviour leaving those unaffected realizing they need to get out of this place before they too succumb to the building’s infectious hold…

Ahh, so THAT’S how you mis-sell a movie!

I’ll be honest, even given that I enjoyed the Rasmussen’s previously-scripted flick I gave Dark Feed a very wide berth. Why? Well Anchor Bay UK’s tri-colour DVD artwork, bathed in night-vision-like hues of green, black and red, made the film look like yet another entry into my most hated of sub-genres: the found-footage flick. But it is most certainly not; and in no way could it ever be mistaken for one. Instead we get a satisfying haunted house flick that echoes the likes of John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness and I’ve no doubt the film will be as misunderstood as Carpenter’s fear flick too.

On the surface Dark Feed would seem to be a low-budget, low-on-ideas, by-the-numbers fear flick. But what Michael and Shawn Rasmussen have actually crafted is an homage of sorts to those haunted house films that have come before it and the film-within-a-film movies that have proliferated horror cinema since its inception. In fact the film shares a lot in common with Carpenter’s aforementioned and now well-respected flick (I say “now well-respected” because at the time of release it was derided as one of Carpenter’s worst), from the decrepit and eerie location, right down to the corporeal fluid housed within it, which in turn influences those around it. To me it would seem having Carpenter direct their first script has influenced their own work; or maybe the guys are just huge John Carpenter fans – after all, who isn’t?

This being a low-budget production there are some issues, mainly in the acting ability of the cast. But for the most part the Rasmussen’s have gathered together a pretty decent bunch of talented unknown actors and actresses, with two great central performances and some fantastic female characters who aren’t all there just to get slaughtered (although a lot of them do). Thankfully the Rasmussen brothers manage to overcome any budget issues as they superbly craft a sense of suspense through little more than some tight pacing and light and shadow.

And they don’t skim on the gore either. In fact they even have fun with it – with an amusing sequence featuring a “behind the scenes” look (from the film-within-the-film) at just what techniques low budget filmmakers use to capture a brutal stabbing scene without spending too much money, which the Rasmussen’s seemingly then use to capture one of the films many “real life” murders – this time reversing the roles… It’s a nice knowing nod to the audience and one that will amuse film fans.

Everything about Dark Feed builds nicely into a fast-paced climax for the films thrilling final few minutes, with a cringe-inducing epilogue that leaves you with no doubt that the story of this haunted hospital isn’t over.

Dark Feed is out now from Anchor Bay.

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